Childhood obesity continues to be a major problem that afflicts many children in the US. According to the CDC, over 20% of the kids in America are considered obese, based on BMI. In spite of various high profile weight control programs recently developed to combat the epidemic, the sad fact is that overweight children tend to become overweight adults, and overweight adults are more prone to chronic disease conditions including CHD and Type 2 diabetes.
A recent study conducted at Yale University (MedlinePlus) offers some hope. In this long term project, overweight children participated in an intensive weight control program that included physical activity and frequent nutrition education. Initially, the children met twice per week to perform physical activity and attend classes on proper eating. After six months, they met twice per month. After two years, long after the activity and nutrition classes were curtailed, many of the kids who participated in the program maintained BMI. Control subjects who did not participate in the program continued to gain weight and increase their BMI. The moral of the story- -educational intervention in young, susceptible children may pay dividends. A cure for the epidemic? Hardly. But a step in the right direction. Certainly.
The recent Dietary Guidelines stressed nutrient density, among other things, as a way to eat healthier while consuming fewer calories. Relatively simple advise that by no means is a cure for the obesity epidemic. But it is sound advice. The Yale study is a good reminder that looking for foods and snacks that provide good nutrition without a lot of calories is the right thing to do for our kids. As parents, we’d do anything to protect our children’s health. Seeking nutrient dense food options is a form of health protection that is often overlooked.